Book Review: In Search of Magic Fire by Amber Gabriel

I’m back with another book review!

Today, I wanted to take a moment to highlight book 3 in The Edge of the Sword series by Amber Gabriel – In Search of Magic Fire.

I read through the first five books in this series while on my Christmas holidays – I absolutely gobbled them up. And I’m still thinking about them. There’s one more book for me to read in the series, but I’ve also got a couple other books to get to as well. It’s all happening! But, back to the topic.

I loved this book.

First off, this is the first time in the series we’ve had two completely separate storylines. On one side, we follow Stelan (first introduced in book 2), who is kidnapped on his way back to Lyliana and swiftly caught up in a plot of intrigue, uncertain of who to trust as he fights to return home – hopefully with a few Cerecian secrets too.

On the other hand, we follow Lydima, cousin to Lady Eemya. Lydima had a small role in book 2, but here she really, really shines as she struggles to care for Eemya and Darius’ lands, and a slowly swelling group of children in need of love and care.

I think the two storylines were really well crafted in this book. The two main characters of Lydima and Stelan both have compelling, interesting tales on two very different ends of life – one is a soldier in enemy territory, the other a young woman caring for others and building a family to the best of her ability. In each case the stakes seem equally high, and each character equally determined to see their goals accomplished. Each storyline had me hooked and as the story jumped between the two (one of which kind of splits off into three as Stelan’s and his companion have to split up) I was just as invested and keen to hear what would happen in each one.

Truly, I really enjoyed this tale. I loved watching Lydima grow in her role, learning how to lead, and to nurture, and, maybe even how to love. Seeing her fall for each of the children and be so attentive and understanding of their needs was such a joy, and the family they create feels so warm and heartening in the midst of the horrors some of the children have to deal with. Reading those scenes where Lydima is forming a family, while at times a difficult or emotionally painful task for her, often gave me those ‘warm cuddly’ feelings when you read a lovely book on a cool night, all rugged up and cosy. It was so good!

As for Stelan, his tale isn’t without struggle either, and some romance along the way! It was such a joy to see two characters get to know each other and still have to deal with a tense, dangerous, life-threatening situation. The stakes are high here, as the Cerecian ‘magic fire’ has the ability to wreak havoc on Berush and Artylia, and learning its secrets could make all the difference…

Once again, Gabriel’s writing is beautiful, and we’re drawn into the lands of Lyliana and Cerecia, with some incredible revelations along the way. It was great to get a close look at Cerecia – it’s been a nice way to introduce the three countries in the first three books I think. I’m eager to see where the relationships between these three countries goes in future novels. But, back to this novel. The ending of In Search of Magic Fire in particular is incredibly, incredibly satisfying for each of our viewpoint characters.

On another note, we also get a look in on characters who will have more of their own stories in the future, chief among them Princess Bashalis. She made quite the impact in her short time in this book, it certainly whets the appetite for more! The other side characters were well rounded and delightful in their own ways (particularly Janis, Zariana, Yoused – among others!). Side characters, I think, can really bring out so much flavour and colour and tone to a story, and I love what Gabriel does with them here.

It’s something of a struggle for me to decide which out of book 3 and 1 is my favourite. And honestly, I’m not entirely sure. I think, overall, part of me can’t let go of book 1, though this one (especially its ending) really gives it a run for its money.

Overall, a real bravo to Gabriel for what she accomplishes in this book (and keep an eye out for the deleted scene at the end – I loved it and think it’s a perfect example of the decisions authors have to make when writing, why they make them, and how they change the course of the story – and stories to come!).

TW: This story deals with child abuse. I think Gabriel does an incredible job of handling the issue, showing it’s awful effects on the most vulnerable, and the struggle to deal with it. I applaud he skill and tact in covering this issue in the book. It’s done incredibly well and feels so real and scary and affecting.

So, those are my thoughts on In Search of Magic Fire. Have you read it? What did you think?

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